tv Hardball Weekend MSNBC September 14, 2013 2:00am-2:31am PDT
obama strong. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. politics makes strange bedfellows and tonight america is in bed with vladimir putin. is this going to work? can we count on this guy to help news syria? is this in oish's interest to end the use of chemical weapons? do our two countries have --
isn't it obvious after what chechen nationalism did to us in the boston marathon, is it this that the americans and russia see a common enemy like in world war ii. could obama's failure to attack on syria get us to fight alongside each other. can this be the point in history we need? big question coming up in the show. first a political fight here at home. president obama's base support remains strong. the latest journal poll shows 78% of democrats, four out of five approve of the job he's doing right now as opposed to 16% who disapprove. that's stronger than the 45% approval nationally. 50% disapproval that president obama gets. the democrats are holding strong. congressman gregory meeks, a democrat from new york and clarence pace, a columnist for the chicago tribune. i want to start with the congressman up in new york. i'm amazed because i know -- part of this, i think, may have to do with this hesitancy about
going to war in syria. i just think the president is very much in sync with most democrats, which is yeah we might have to do something but i feel very bad about going to war again. i wonder whether his hesitancy isn't perfectly in sync with what most democrats are thinking. your thoughts, sir? >> i think the president is acting deliberately and understanding and learned the lessons of what took place in iraq. he knows and most democrats know, i think, that previously there was -- when we went into iraq, it was a hyped war. we were given misinformation. he's been trying to give the americans the truth. that this is not -- there's no imminent threat or imminent danger as was hyped in iraq. i think democrats understand that. democrats also understand that if you were to go in to take out assad that you would -- syria in the same way as iraq. he's not doing that. the best way to do it is to have
dialog and conversation and that's what he's doing. democrats wanted him to come to congress. he's come to congress. so those kinds of things, which i think were the right things to do for the country that's going to prevent us from having the kind of catastrophic problems we had back in iraq and now has driven us to the table where we're talking with the russians is a positive. that we have an opportunity, a window of opportunity to do something that won't cause us to have to go to wore. >> a lot of us when we turn on the television with nothing else to do, we see an extreme wrestling matches going on. i don't like either of these guys. >> right. >> i'm not rooting for either eye. >> remember kissinger's line is the pity is one has to win. that's the kind of situation you've got. >> especially the papers this week, you get this online stuff, the guy getting his head cut off or the seven guys getting executed. >> that's right. we are dealing with -- what's the alternative to assad?
it's riddled with al qaeda and other islamic extremists that aren't guaranteed to bring in democracy either. >> first time i've liked anything that that fellow in texas said at the time cruz when he said we'll be al qaeda's air force. >> not unlike vietnam, a lot of people saw the sigh gone government wasn't that stable either. >> president obama receives unwavering solid support from his base of voters often referred to as the coalition of a sen dant. among african-americans, 85% approval. still 11% disapproval among hispanics. about the same as the election. 60% approve, 37% disapprove. college educated women 57%. three out of five. congressman, when you go around your district, i don't know if it's the same everywhere else. in the weird way left is catching up to right or vice
versa. both ends don't like this idea of going into war. what's it like in new york? >> i think no one really wanted to go to war. they're also concerned about doing something unilaterally. they wanted an international coalition as to what would be done. they wanted to make sure it was deliberate. my individuals are asking me in my district to get as much information as i can to make a deliberate and a well thought through decision as to what i should do. but they definitely would not -- do not want to go to war. at the same token, they want to make sure that chemical weapons are not utilized. that understand that line that might have been crossed, if you want to use that expression. but they say it's an international line that was crossed. so the international community should come together to do whatever needs to be done. >> the cbc, the congressional black caucus, often called the caucus on the hill, can you tell me whether they were going to vote on this, support a strike
by our forces against the syrian government? were they going to do it or not? >> by and large, most members were still undecided. what they wanted to do was to watch and get all of the facts. get all of the evidence in. that's what we did actually with iraq even. try to make sure that we understood what was going to take place. what would happen after a strike, how large a strike to make that decision. the members of the congressional black caucus are not monolithic. individuals will do different things as they process the information for themselves. >> sir, isn't it fair to say that you didn't want to come out against the president. that was part of the hesitancy. even though it didn't look like you wanted to do it, your people back home didn't want to do it, you were hesitant to put down a mark of may? >> i'm going to tell you, when you decide, have a vote to decide whether or not you utilize the united states military, it's not about who is your friend and who is not your friend.
that's the hardest vote in my 15 years in congress, the hardest votes i've had to take, whether or not we use our military or not. that's a vote of conscience. i think the members of the congressional black caucus were going to utilize their conscience not based upon the friendship with the president. they wanted to make sure to do the right thing. >> what do you think, clarence. as an objective journalist, was this a lot of fear, i don't want to put a nay vote down? >> it is a vote of conscience. that's why this issue crossed party lines. you've got libertarian republicans, they're just as anti-war as the left wing democrats. it's the kind of issue that also stands out by itself too, i think. i don't know if anybody's election prospects are going to rise or fall on this. except obama doesn't have to worry about reelection. >> let's talk about his election, clarence. you first. we all know watching this thing last summer, the one thing that got people energized to vote in
the black community was the voter suppression stuff going on. it was in pennsylvania, down south. 36 states, all around the country. that galvanized, people said i'm not going to screwed out of my vote. i want to ask you this open question. are people paying attention enough to what's going on on the right? people like ted cruz to make obama's presidency an asterisk. we'll success secession. we'll repeal obama care, we'll keep whispering about birtherism. anything so we can say he wasn't on the list of presidents. that's not one of the face that is belongs on the list of presidents. maybe i'm paranoid. that's what i that i they're up to. >> facts are facts. >> what i'm talking about, this attempt to discount him. >> we talk about legacy. his legacy stands. we can see what he's done.
and the durability of obama care is right there. with these quick votes against it. >> they're going to shut down the government over it. they tried to. >> right now, it looks like that would backlash against them like it backlashed against newt gingrich and his regime in the '90s. the innithing we got to talk ab the mid terms or the general elections. in the mid-terms, i think african-americans and a lot of other voters tend to vote democrat are less likely to show up and it's harder to generate that same kind much energy and you've also got a lot of safe districts. so people are better about turning out. >> congressman meeks, do you hear people talk about these characters? i've never seen this right wing so virulent basically trying to erase obama. kill the baby in its crib with obama care. make sure it's like he's barry bonds. he didn't hit all the homers. there's something wrong with this. it seems like that's what they're trying to do.
>> history will reflect that. they're going to show the kind of individuals that were in congress he had to deal with. yet his accomplishments. they're going to show when he came into office, he had three major catastrophic events taking place. the worst financial crisis of which he got us out of, a war in iraq and afghanistan. he passed a health care bill that had been trying to be passed for decades. so the -- and he did a lot of this against the opposition of individuals who wanted to wipe him off the map. that's going to make his legacy that much stronger and better, i think, in the eyes of history. >> that's the best i've heard it. thank you so much. congressman meeks in new york and -- >> now that putin stuck his neck out in syria, he's the go-to guy to get the chemical weapons. we'll talk about whether russia can control the mess over there. add maryland to the states where right wingers are pushing secession.
what happened to respecting the will of the people? democratic pay back. harry reid will hold a campaign -- republican bill frist did to tom dash he will in '04. finally, you goat play "hardball" with me. i'll answer your twitter questions. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ female announcer ] we lowered her fever. you raise her spirits. we tackled your shoulder pain. you make him rookie of the year. we took care of your cold symptoms. you take him on an adventure. tylenol® has been the number 1 doctor recommended brand of pain reliever for over 20 years. but for everything we do, we know you do so much more. tylenol®.
welcome back to "hardball." america is waiting and watching right now. like it or not, russian president vladimir putin is president obama's best hope to peacefully disarm syria. a war weary public at home and a war weary congress at home, obama pinned his hopes on a diplomatic resolution whose outcome rests on a man who lately made reputation at america's expense. nbc news is reporting that a senior administration official here in washington suggests the united states would agree to a key russian demand.
that the u.n. resolution will not include the use of military force or the threat of military force against syria as a consequence for noncompliance. politics makes strange bedfellows but as cold war history has shown, our history with russia is -- it would be an overstatement to call it a friend. it's no overstatement to say that president obama and his team need to deliver on this one in syria which won't be an easy task considering russia's temperament. as winston churchill famously said. i cannot forecast -- enigma but perhaps there is a key, that key is russian national interest. now that we're playing the game on their turf, it's worth asking. what makes putin's russia tick? simon marks, and sergei crews chief, the son of the leader of the soviet union. this is a picture of father and
son back to 1959. sergei is now a senior fellow at brown university's watson institute for international studies. professor, thank you for joining us. i guess the first question is, what are russia's interests in syria? >> stability. russia don't want to have all this fighting on their borders. feared about the returning taliban and afghanistan and to have the city near the caucuses, nightmare for russia. they need stability and predictability and they think that the president assad has given the stability and all this his -- creating uncertainty because nobody know who are they and who will be in power will they win. >> do you think, professor, that the united states and the west now have faces a common enemy alongside russia of islamism. the danger of the chech any ans
and the danger of the people in al qaeda? do we see the same enemy across the frontier? >> i wouldn't say the enemy to west or to russia. but russia live with islam peacefully for last 400 years. and they had no problems. but, of course, all the extremists are very dangerous there and starting fighting there, especially when you have this fighting -- to fight in between different religious groups, islamists from one side and other side also they're fighting against armenians and against christians, it's becoming very different because there you just concentrated the strong limited way of people who know nothing but we want to kill you. this is difficult. >> a lot of americans don't put things together quickly because we're not helped by the media.
when bobby kennedy was shot by certificate sirhan sirhan. nobody said this could have to do with the middle east. maybe this has something to do with world politics. no it was just a tragedy left to conspiracy theorists. then the boston marathon bombers, nobody puts together they're islamic terrorists and chechnya versus moscow, common enemy. putting it together and possibly a route to the opportunity for putdin and his own russian interests to help us with syria. >> there's a whole raft of self-interests guiding vladimir putin in this and certainly concern about islamic extremism at home is one of the self-interests that are driving him. there's more to it, i think, with great respect to the professor than simply a desire for stability. there's also a desire to project an image of russia as a major player on the global stage. that is what has been driving vladimir putin from the very moment that he became russian
president. it is a desire to be seen as sharing equivalence with the united states. both in terms of refusing to accept that american democracy is a superior political system. >> is that a bad thing for the world or us? >> it's certainly a bad thing for the united states, no question about that. you see a united states that is embarrassed on the global stage after the events of the past ten days. a united states whose government seems weaker on the world stage than before. >> we were weak before the russians came along. we were weak because the american people were not interested in a war in syria, not because of anything to do with the russians. >> weak because you're being consistently outmaneuvered on this issue. >> let me get back to professor for a minute. do you accept the fact that simon marks made the argument that a lot of this has to do with ego and the desire of the russian leader to re-establish equality, global equality with the united states?
>> i think that the putin realistic and he understand that russia know more than great power. it's not the superior power. it's not the original power. the putin interest is just to establish his position inside the former soviet union, creating the custom union, economical union, and many other things. of course, he want to be presented in the world and member of the g-20 as any of this country's wanted it to be on this stage and present their point. but they will not -- interest don't challenge united states like it was during the cold war and when my father was in power. it was only two powers in the world who try to deal with each other. >> that's for sure. it was simpler back then. for his part, vladimir putin relied heavily on the u.n. security council as a place to exert his control on the world stage. he stressed its important roll in the op-ed that ran yesterday.
nikita crews chief, your father knew the iconic value of using the u.n. in a different way. for theater, whether pounding the table in protest or disrupting a speech in protest. he used confrontations to command attention. take a look. >> none of us particularly were welcome in our countries, a large number of officials. a large number oaf physicians from abroad. a large number of -- [ inaudible ] >> i'd like it translated if you would. [ applause ] >> perhaps most well-known disruption was the legendary shoe incident when he removed his shoe and pounded on the table. the only photographic incident of that is this new york times incident which shows the shoe in front of him. thank you, professor, from brown university and thank you simon marks for joining us. i'm going to answer your twitter
welcome back to "hardball." it's time for our special segment. let's play "hardball" where you the audience get to turn the tables on me and ask anything on twitter. let's start in morgantown, west virginia. he asks chris, has congress always worked 3 1/2 days a week and taken so many vacations and not accomplished a thing? >> first of all, i think they do good work at home in their districts when they're there. it's not just d.c. here's the big answer to your question. they used to do stuff like get the budget resolution done in the spring by may 15th when it's supposed to get done. they used to get the appropriations done through the summer and meet the deadline for keeping the government going without crapping around like they're doing this coming month. yes they used to get the work done. >> the next one from john ryan. he asked what did chris learn in
the peace corps that he uses in his work today? you're back here with us. the best thing i ever did in the peace corps was join it. the second thing riding in a suzuki 120 motorcycle in the middle of nowhere speaking zulu with people i know nothing like. i was the first white guy they had seen. i was teaching business in small trading shops by myself out there. once you've done that, it's not like the military, i'm not saying that. it was a growing up experience, a great thing. i hope i helped that country. finally, from mike gallagher. everybody is irish tonight. will history see the syria event for positive? >> i think things changed when he realized, the president that his own democratic party and his loyalists did not support him going into military action in syria. that's what changed everything. oddly enough, the secretary of state said maybe if they get rid of their chemical weapons we won't have to do this. the russians saw that -- they were quick witted enough to see the opportunity.
the president has to be as quick with it and exploit the russian involvement in this thing. i think it's smart that we said we're not going to set as a rule, we go to the security council in new york and say we're not threatening them. don't threaten until we have a partner and that partner has to be russia. up next, your business with jj ramberg. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. you raise her spirits. we tackled your shoulder pain. you make him rookie of the year. we took care of your cold symptoms. you take him on an adventure. tylenol® has been the number 1 doctor recommended brand of pain reliever for over 20 years. but for everything we do, we know you do so much more. tylenol®.